Crippen and the deaths due to DWP’s Sanctions regime

The Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride has been asked by Labour’s Debbie Abrahams to “anticipate” the number of benefit claimants that he thinks will lose their lives due to government plans to reintroduce the “harsh and severe” benefits sanctions regime first launched 10 years ago.

As reported in Disability News Service, Abrahams told Stride, who was giving evidence to the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, that the “punitive” nature of that regime, introduced by the 2010 coalition government, had been “so detrimental” to claimants, particularly those in vulnerable situations.

She highlighted evidence that showed the impact of sanctions on disabled people, including government research which showed that sanctions were “harmful and counter-productive”, and long-term research by academics which showed imposing strict conditions on claimants was ineffective and harmful.

After questioning from the SNP’s David Linden, Stride had admitted that he could not remember ever having met or spoken to a single benefit claimant who had been sanctioned by DWP.

But Linden told him:

“I meet people just about every week who … tell me is that being sanctioned pushes them into destitution. They have to be fed by local food banks; they have to rely on the charity of people in their community. They experience mental health crisis as a result of that.”

Linden told Stride: “It seems to me perhaps your understanding of sanctions is very theoretical and not actually based on how it interacts with people on the ground.”

Read more about this exchange and also what Stride had to say about his new disability benefits white paper in the Disability News Service article.

Description of cartoon for those using screen reading software

The Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride is standing outside a building with his name plaque on the wall. On the floor at his feet is a copy of the Disability News Service with a headline that reads ‘DWP deny that sanctions have any impact on disabled people’.  Opposite him is a wheelchair user clutching a large bag with ‘Local Food Bank’ printed upon it. At his feet is a notice that his electricity supply is to be cut off and another that says ‘Rent Arrears’. Stride is saying: “You do realise than in theory none of you should be affected by our sanctions!”

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